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Driving to parks in California?


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Hello,

 

I live in England and have to been to Walt Disney World many times, and never had a problem driving to and from the Disney parks, Seaworld, Universal and Busch Gardens.

 

My girlfriend and I are now planning a 2 week trip to California (neither of us have ever been) and want to stay in the Disneyland Hotel. We want to visit both Disney parks, Seaworld San Diego, Universal Hollywood, Knotts, SFMM and maybe do some touristy (sp) sight seeing.

 

I've read that the transit system in California is terrible? Is this true and what would people who have been on this sort of holiday or who live in the area recommend?

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated,

regards,

Matt

 

MODS: I've posted in the 'Themeparks' section of the forum as it touches on the subject of parks. If it needs to be in 'Random' then would you please move it?

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I would definitely suggest renting a car, because you've heard correctly, our Public Transit system is close to useless.

 

I put the five parks (six if you count California Adventure) on a map, which you can see (EDIT: Well, this link is being a jerk, I'll just PM it to you.)

 

That's just to give you an idea of where everything is in relation to Disneyland (Location A on the map) if you do end up staying at the Disneyland hotel. I hope that helped a little bit!

 

-Jake "Have an awesome trip!" Sundstrom

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I would definitely suggest renting a car, because you've heard correctly, our Public Transit system is close to useless.

 

I put the five parks (six if you count California Adventure) on a map, which you can see (EDIT: Well, this link is being a jerk, I'll just PM it to you.)

 

That's just to give you an idea of where everything is in relation to Disneyland (Location A on the map) if you do end up staying at the Disneyland hotel. I hope that helped a little bit!

 

-Jake "Have an awesome trip!" Sundstrom

 

That is fantastic, I've never used that before. Thank you very much.

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Yeah definitely rent a car, sfmm is a good hour to hour and a half drive from Disneyland and you really can't take public transit for that, plus plan on getting to places early because you'll no doubt hit L.A's famous traffic, especially if you want to go to the touristy places Have a great trip

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I've read that the transit system in California is terrible? Is this true and what would people who have been on this sort of holiday or who live in the area recommend?

 

Yeah, the roads and freeways in California do tend to be more complicated and congested than those in Florida. But, speaking as a native Californian (who has also lived in Florida), people do still manage to get around.

 

Just build in some extra travel time, in case of traffic.

 

/Oh, and don't worry about getting a car with cruise control.

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To an international visitor, it may actually be easier than you think. Pretty much every park is on Interstate 5 or damn close to it. Should make your travels fairly simple (except for the whole traffic thing).

 

I find the drivers in California to be more tentative than those in many other states. I mean, there is a lot of traffic, but they do courteous things like signal and make an attempt to let you in.

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^ I'm not sure what part of California you've been driving in, but that's not the norm and not what I would tell someone who is looking for advice for driving in California.

 

I've driven literally over 1 million miles in my driving career all over the world and California is where I call my driving "home" and I can tell you that people almost never use the turn signals, they almost never let you over when you do signal, and they are some of the rudest most inconsiderate drivers I've experienced.

 

Most California drivers have a "me first" mentality and you need to learn how to drive offensively.

 

I'm sure most other fellow California's would (as much as they hate to say it) agree.

 

--Robb

california_drivers.thumb.jpg.4ee9d77da187c5fe942caa4fa8e66896.jpg

EDIT - here is what Hertz gives to people who rent cars in California...I love #4! =)

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I think there is little doubt that driving in Southern California is generally nastier and more stressful than driving in Central Florida. I've never driven in another place where they'll tailgate you so consistently at very high speeds. For me, it's a big reason why I'd never live out there.

 

Still though, you'll manage fine. Buy or rent a GPS with text-to-speech. It helps a LOT for driving in SoCal because it's so nice to have a little computer telling you where to get off, what turns to make, what lane to be in, etc. Also, if you make a wrong turn, the GPS will re-calculate the directions on the fly. Google Maps print outs can't do that.

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^ I'm not sure what part of California you've been driving in, but that's not the norm and not what I would tell someone who is looking for advice for driving in California.

 

I've driven literally over 1 million miles in my driving career all over the world and California is where I call my driving "home" and I can tell you that people almost never use the turn signals, they almost never let you over when you do signal, and they are some of the rudest most inconsiderate drivers I've experienced.

 

Most California drivers have a "me first" mentality and you need to learn how to drive offensively.

 

I'm sure most other fellow California's would (as much as they hate to say it) agree.

 

I haven't driven around SoCal myself so I can't really comment, but I would definitely give a "dishonorable mention" to drivers down here in Texas.

 

In my own experience driving to and from college/work here in the westside Houston area, there is almost always at least one car I encounter that has absolutely no idea what they're doing (Volkswagens, Lexus sedans, and pickup trucks tend to be the most common). Also, someone nearly always rides my bumper on the freeways, even at 5mph over the speed limit (I feel your pain Ginzo). And you have make sure you know the right-of-way rules, because at flashing red lights/4-way stops there's a 50% chance that an overzealous Ford F-150 will come darting out when he doesn't have the right of way.

 

But I'll have to second LA traffic being really bad based on my SFMM/KBF visit, especially if you leave the parks right at the rush hour.

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I know this isn't very relevant, but being a Los Angeles native, I can honestly say drivers in Boston are absolutely terrible. People cut into traffic, make left turns when there is clearly traffic coming at them, and everything happens very slowly.

 

To compare, I would say LA drivers are FAST. We accelerate quickly and slow down quickly as well. I think thats why people think we are 'bad' drivers, because like Robb said, it is a very 'me' mentality on the road. Therefore, you need to adapt that mentality or you will never get anywhere. Confidence is a + on the road. I generally spend half of the time behind the wheel observing everybody else and anticipating their moves. Watch out for the guy in the BMW going 90 weaving through traffic! Hes everywhere!!!

 

Chris.

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Sometimes traffic stops suddenly and without warning! Be prepared and watchful. Leave lots of room between you and the vehicle in front of you.

This is very true, the first time I drove through LA traffic was going about 80 then all of a sudden came to a complete standstill and I was like HOLY **** and my life had started to flash before my eyes. After driving down here for awhile you realize that sudden standstills on the freeway come out of nowhere and are frequent so make sure not to be anywhere near the car in front of you when traffic is going fast.

 

The main difference between driving here or somewhere else in the country is that theres tons of traffic and theres a lot of terrain. You can be driving seemingly in the middle of nowhere through the mountains and there will be tons of traffic going at high speeds, its very awkward for someone who's not used to it. The good thing is the parks are all for the most part pretty close to eachother. Disney and Knotts are basically down the street from eachother, USH is like an hour up the 5 freeway, and SFMM is like another 45 minutes up the 5 freeway from USH (okay maybe not nearly as close as the Orlando parks, but for most of the country that has 1 or 2 parks in their market these parks are considered close )...

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This is a trip that I have been planning and dying to take myself. I have noticed that most people seem to be mentioning the people that are rude etc..extra time. On another, possibly more important note, I have researched the driving times, and from Anaheim to San Diego was about 90 minutes SOUTH. To go to Universal was about 40 minutes NORTH of Anaheim. I am not sure where SFMM was in relation to any of that because my original plans did not include that park. (Don't know what I was thinking! lol) It is lots of driving around, and not like you would be in Orlando, where everything is relatively close. I deffinitely suggest renting a car. As far as traffic and how long it will actually take, I have no clue. Just leave with extra time to spare.

 

I originally wanted to hotel hop. Fly in and go straight to San Diego for a few nights, then to Anaheim, then to the US area, then drive to the airport on the final day - or something like that. It really depends on my husband, and if he cares about the hotel hopping. But in the end, it may just be easier to do that than to drive back and forth every day.

 

Here are useful links just in case you weren't aware of it:

http://www.gosandiegocard.com/sandiego-attractions.html

 

http://www.citypass.com/city/socal.html

 

Don't forget, the passes are a great savings if you want to do everything while there! I cannot wait to see your PTR, as this will let me know how to better plan for my (eventual) SoCal trip!

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^ I'm not sure what part of California you've been driving in, but that's not the norm and not what I would tell someone who is looking for advice for driving in California.

 

I've driven literally over 1 million miles in my driving career all over the world and California is where I call my driving "home" and I can tell you that people almost never use the turn signals, they almost never let you over when you do signal, and they are some of the rudest most inconsiderate drivers I've experienced.

 

I grew up in the LA area but moved to New England about 7 years ago. I still regularly visit LA, and I can say with confidence that compared to Massachusetts drivers, California drivers are wonderful. For the most part, CA drivers know how to merge into traffic, park without blocking whole streets, and yield to pedestrians -- something MA drivers never seem to do. They also generally don't pull stupid crap MA drivers do all the time like trying to make a left turn at the beginning of the green light (instead of on their yellow or when traffic is clear) or entering an intersection when there is no room to exit it before the light turns red, causing gridlock (there are no "do not block intersection" rules here).

 

Also, one piece of advice: in most places in the country, people refer to road numbers without the word the, as in "Take 90 to 495" or "Go North on 9". However, in California, you always use the, so you would hear "Take the 5 to the 101" or "Take the 210 North".

 

However, as people have said, finding your way around isn't tough. The signs tend to be very good (although the lack of exit numbers on the freeways confuse many tourists), and all the parks are freeway accessible (with Knott's probably being the hardest to get to). Besides, it's kinda neat that you can ride Arrow's first steel coaster (Matterhorn) and last steel coaster (X2) without straying more than a mile from the 5 freeway.

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It depends on your diving skills and how adventures you want to get. My wife and I did a 2 week California tour many years ago and my wife had us only going to S. Cal. stuff and when I told her we could go to Vegas too. She thought it was to far. after looking at a map we made adjustments. Did everything in S cal. and then some. Also growing up there did help getting around.

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This is a trip that I have been planning and dying to take myself. I have noticed that most people seem to be mentioning the people that are rude etc..extra time. On another, possibly more important note, I have researched the driving times, and from Anaheim to San Diego was about 90 minutes SOUTH. To go to Universal was about 40 minutes NORTH of Anaheim. I am not sure where SFMM was in relation to any of that because my original plans did not include that park. (Don't know what I was thinking! lol) It is lots of driving around, and not like you would be in Orlando, where everything is relatively close. I deffinitely suggest renting a car. As far as traffic and how long it will actually take, I have no clue. Just leave with extra time to spare.

 

Just as a reminder, those times are WITHOUT traffic. There is really only 1 way from Anaheim to San Diego (the 5) and you can easily spend 2 hours in Traffic getting down there. To be safe, I'd give yourself at least 2 hours to get down there.

 

As for Disneyland to Universal, you have to go through Downtown LA and you WILL hit traffic unless your going on a Sunday morning. I'd give yourself about an hour or more.

 

SFMM is probably 30 miles from Universal, with traffic, I'd give yourself an hour.

 

So for example, travel times from Disneyland:

- Sea World - 2 hours

- USH - 1 - 1 1/2 hours

- SFMM - 2 hours

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Yep, I had a feeling about those travel times. I think my hotel hopping idea may be a great idea after all! Thanks Sir Clinksalot! I will definitely take that into consideration when booking my trip. (Is that just rush hour type traffic or regular non rush hour traffic?)

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^^ Rush "Hour" in LA during the week is from about 5:30am to probably 9:00pm.

 

Granted, the hours between say 10am and 2pm are a bit lighter, but there are MANY accidents on the SoCal freeways. Those of us who have driven here a lot know how to get around them, but for somebody who doesn't know the area, I wouldn't suggest it.

 

I don't really think there is any "centralized" place to stay in order to have just one hotel.

 

I guess you could "conceivably" get a hotel near Disneyland, drive down to SW and back for the day. I mean, I have driven from my house to Sea World (3-4 hour drive each way) in a day, but it's not fun. That would probably put your driving at 2 hours each way.

 

That would put your drives to Universal and SFMM at least doable. Although I'd suggest if you are going to do SFMM and Universal on back-to-back days to get a hotel in that area. Burbank and Glendale are nice areas that are near Universal and easily accessible to SFMM.

 

If you are comfortable using Priceline, I'd really recommend it. Check biddingfortravel.com to get some tips on it. But if you like picking where you stay, don't use it. I used that site for our chicago trip last year and paid $75 per night at the Hyatt Regency off of Michigan Ave.

 

In the past year, I booked 17 nights down by Disneyland and didn't pay more than $60 per night using priceline. And these are for hotels like the Hilton, Hyatt, etc. If you want more info or help booking in the Disneyland area, send me a PM.

 

What other "touristy" type stuff do you want to do?

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What other "touristy" type stuff do you want to do?

 

Thanks for all your comments, tips and advice guys.

 

The other touristy stuff would be a tour of the stars homes, visting Rodeo Drive, Manns Chinese Theatre and getting a photo in front of the Hollywood sign!

 

I reckon we would probably take a trip a beach one day?

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Today's LA Travel tip:

 

You can save up to 45 minutes in the Downtown LA area (traveling on the 5) by:

 

Northbound: Taking the 710 N (ramp on the left!) to the 10 W, back to the 5 N

 

Southbound: Take the 10 E to the 710 S, back to the 5 S

 

I pull this move exclusively, even at 2 in the morning. I always avoid traffic doing this, and it only adds about a half mile to your trip.

 

Chris.

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I grew up in the LA area but moved to New England about 7 years ago. I still regularly visit LA, and I can say with confidence that compared to Massachusetts drivers, California drivers are wonderful.

No offense dude, but your only 24 years old. That means you moved out of California when you were 17 and barely driving in So Cal on a regular basis.

 

Having driven in California for the past 20 out of 23 years of my life (with the other three years being on the East Coast) I can say with absolute confidence that California drivers are anything BUT "wonderful."

 

--Robb

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^^ Honestly, when I have friends coming from out of town, I give them one route and tell them to stick to it. It might sound easy to those of us who know the LA Freeway system to go on other freeways to save time, but for those who don't drive them a lot, it's just easier to say "take the 5 north to the 101 north and exit at Lankershim" to get to Universal.

 

Most other places the freeway systems are pretty easy to navigate, at least in my experience. Not so much in LA.

 

window, looks like you could spend a day in Hollywood. I would definately recommend doing it before or after your Universal day. It's only about 3 miles from Universal to "Hollywood".

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